Norman Takeuchi’s paintings dynamically express and reclaim his Japanese-Canadian heritage using iconic imagery and swirling abstractions. This collection of paintings are exceptional representations of his mature style, a genre all its own in the story of art-making in Canada.
In 2013, Takeuchi wrote:
“The duality of being Japanese-Canadian is at the heart of my work. As a member of a community that experienced the upheaval of the internment years, the art reflects conflicting views: the earlier difficulties of acknowledging my Japanese heritage and the eventual acceptance of it. The fusion of dissonant abstract forms with painted reproductions of Japanese woodblock prints, Noh theatre masks and other motifs from old – and modern – Japan hint at an uneasy search for harmony and balance between two worlds. Ultimately though, the paintings are a celebration of a dual heritage and of having learned to embrace the blended beauty of two cultures.”
Takeuchi’s working process starts with small collaged ‘sketches’ of fragmented imagery and visual juxtapositions which are then enlarged onto canvas or paper. Iconic landscapes, figures and symbols representing cultural identity can be glimpsed between shaped fields of colour and pattern. They combine to create a fragmented layering of images which take on the narrative of Norman’s personal history and that of other Japanese-Canadians. But there is also playfulness in these compositions, showing the artist’s more relaxed approach to his work in recent years.
A graduate of the Vancouver School of Art, Takeuchi’s early career combined exhibition design (Expo 67, Expo 70, Canadian Museum of Nature) with painting. In 1996 he left his design career to become a full-time artist and has since participated in many solo and group exhibitions. His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Canada Council Art Bank; Carleton University Art Gallery; Confederation Gallery, Charlottetown, P.E.I.; The Ottawa Art Gallery; Mitel Corporation; and in private collections in Canada and abroad.
Norman Takeuchi maintains an active studio practice and has upcoming solo exhibitions at Karsh-Masson (Ottawa) in 2021-22 and at the Ottawa Art Gallery in 2023.